Flight Instruments and Navigation Equipment

Flight instruments and navigation equipment are a critical part of safe flight. Parts such as the airspeed indicator, tachometer indicator, flap position indicator, temperature indicator, encoding altimeter, aircraft compass, and many more, have an important role to play. This blog will explain the main flight instruments and navigation tools, how they work, and why they are so important.

Flight Instruments

One of the most important flight instrument systems is the pitot-static system. Pitot-static instruments use a sampling of the ambient atmospheric pressure to determine the height and speed of movement of the aircraft through the air. Static air pressure is measured at a flush port where air is not distributed, while pitot pressure (moving air pressure) is measured via a tube pointed into the relative wind. The instruments found in the pitot-static system include the altimeter, vertical speed indicator, and airspeed indicator.

The altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an aircraft above a fixed level. It determines the altitude based on the measurement of atmospheric pressure. As altitude increases, air pressure decreases. To ensure accuracy, the altimeter must be calibrated correctly. The vertical speed indicator, also known as a variometer, is an instrument that measures the rate of change of altitude. Similar to the altimeter, it does this by detecting changes in the static air pressure through an aneroid which is connected to the static system. The airspeed indicator denotes the airspeed of an indicator by measuring the difference in pressure between the static pressure in the static port and the total pressure from the pitot tube. This differential is registered with the pointer on the face of the indicator.

Other critical flight instruments include the attitude indicator, heading indicator, and magnetic compass. The attitude indicator, also known as the artificial horizon, is an instrument that displays the aircraft’s orientation relative to the earth’s horizon. It shows a miniature aircraft and horizon bar that replicate the relation of the real aircraft to the actual horizon. The heading indicator is used to demonstrate the aircraft’s heading, or the direction in which its nose is pointed. It does this by using a gyroscope mounted in a double gimbal axis such that the gyroscope recognizes rotation about the vertical axis of the airplane. The magnetic compass operates via two small magnets attached to a metal float within a bowl of clear compass fluid. The metal float has a steel pivot in the center which allows the magnets to align with the earth’s magnetic field and display the direction on the instrument.

Navigation Equipments

There are four primary pieces of navigation equipment: very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR), distance measuring equipment (DME), instrument landing system, and global positioning system (GPS). The VOR is a type of short-range radio navigation system which allows aircraft with a receiving unit to determine its position and stay on course via reception of radio signals transmitted from a collection of fixed ground radio beacons. Distance measuring equipment is a navigation beacon, usually coupled with a VOR beacon, which allows aircraft to measure their position relative to a particular beacon. The DME sends out a signal to ground equipment which returns after a fixed delay, depending on the distance.

The instrument landing system also uses radio wave transmission to operate. This system sends radio waves downrange from the runway end which are then intercepted by airborne aircraft. The aircraft then follow the radio waves which guide them to the runway. The final piece of navigation equipment is the global positioning system, known as GPS. This is a satellite-based radionavigation system. It operates by providing geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere via an unobstructed line of sight from orbiting GPS satellites. It is one of the most common and effective modes of navigation. For all these tools and many more, look no further than Veritable Aviation.

At Veritable Aviation, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you source all types of aircraft navigation equipment or aircraft instrumentation parts and deliver them with some of the industry’s best lead times. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@veritableaviation.com or call us at 1-503-374-0340. Our team of dedicated account managers is standing by and will respond to you in 15 minutes or less.


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